Purpose of Education #immooc

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I’ve really been thinking about this. Our school systems in the United States formed with local boards of education so that the community’s education goals direct what happens in their school. Of course, the State Departments of Education mandate curriculum and their goals, and the US Department of Education and its purse strings mandate their own policies. With the State and Federal mandates determining funding, our schools focus on those goals and mandates, which in this time period include standardized testing, teacher evaluations, and various curricular requirements. This tangle of mandates strangle any true purpose of education, which must focus on the students, and I’m not sure the local community has much say, since the school board of directors usually focuses on improving those test scores as well.

What are the tests testing? Do we need tests to discern whether or not a student can read, do math, or communicate clearly? Do we really need tests to see where students are in the development of their thinking processes — to tell fact from fiction, and to synthesize ideas in discussion and debate with others to reach a set of understandings?

I don’t think so; I think teachers could observe, assess, guide, and scaffold learners to move successfully from where they are to where they could be successful as critical and creative learners on their own.

Because what is the purpose of education? Our public education system accepts all students, and our purpose must be to guide them to discover who they are, to know what their strengths are and could be, and to enrich their world with choices in possibilities through authentic group and personal goals. This is a process of living and working together to discover the understandings of how the world works by doing the work.

The purpose of education is to support and enrich the learners so they can learn on their own, no matter what the situation. As Seymour Papert says, “The good way to learn is to use it now.” Education must be doing what is needed by students as they choose and work through an authentic, relevant, and beneficent interest or inquiry.

In the doing, we learn. We learn more than the objective specific to the curriculum; we learn to investigate, share, discuss, debate, share, design, provide feedback, organize, determine relevance, create and remix, present, etc. Not everyone is learning the same things, because individuals or teams are focused on what each needs to reach their purpose.

Innovation breaks through patterns of routine and encourages attainment of essential goals through better strategies, processes, and tools that engage learners as active advocates and architects of their goals, learning, and life plans, working with peers to make the world better.

Innovation isn’t a big thing, although it could be. Innovation can simply be choices in what and how to study. The choices are the innovation.  Innovation can be stepping back and thinking, “Does every one have to take a test to show what they know?” — and providing or asking students what that would look like. Innovation can be simply just that: making decisions with students.

It can be strategies: how to turn uncivil arguments into civil and respectful debates.

It can be tools: social bookmarking, YouTube Live debates

It can be processes and protocols developed together with participants.

Innovation takes the usual or mundane, reinvigorates the purpose, and creates better engagement to meet that purpose.

Big or small, innovation moves people and education forward for the better, as each student moves forward knowing his/her strengths and goals while building the knowledge and skills to meet their goals.

What has been one of your best “innovations”that have broken through the usual to better focus the team’s goals?

seymourpapert

 

 

 

#IMMOOC Building Mindsets

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Kevin Hodgson created an #IMMOOC Innovative Mindset Google Plus Community for conversation, sharing, and collaboration about spreading this idea of Innovation, based on the book study mooc started by George Couros for his book,The Innovator’s Mindset .

Kevin challenged us to begin thinking of innovation, and to think of our ideas of innovation as an image.

That simple request forces us to step outside of our thinking, to see things in a new light. It reminded me of  my mom’s old book of puzzles. I loved it. My favorite puzzles consisted of simple sketches that suggested something. What do you think the above image is?

Unflattening the world has been part of my life – my mom could see beyond the obvious, and helped me look at the bigger picture. As a young mother rushed in front of us in the grocery line, mom would say, “She needs to get her back home for baby’s nap.” That might not have been true, but mom always took a step back to see a bigger idea and a step into the shoes of others.

Is the image a bear climbing a tree? A giraffe walking by your window? A snake slithering across your beach towel?

We need to step around to see. Turn things around, and get a different view. Try to think from another’s perspective. Believe in your own! And as Kevin asks of us, see things from another perspective.

I think that is part of innovation, especially with technology, because technology removes boundaries and barriers, bringing the possibility for all ideas to be shared, remixed, and repurposed, building on what worked, and often in collaboration with others, to find a better way towards an issue, strategy, or communication. Innovation builds on the ideas that went before and tweaks them, changes them, steps apart from them to better the world in which we live and work together.

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I tried to create that concept in my image as a response to Kevin’s challenge. I opened an iPhone app [NetSketch] and started drawing lines and shapes to represent ideas, the lighter colors the earlier ideas later connected and stretched in new ways, with the bolder colors leading the developed change, a forward flowing change kept as it bettered my [our] world with continued innovative developments.

You can see other people’s drawings here.

Imagine this in schools — it’s not an overnight occurrence, although some of the choices may be simple and easy to quickly innovate; it’s more than one thing — it’s something that becomes part of what you do daily . It’s part of a system of thinking, doing, and creating that is better than before.

To see an example of this, read Kevin’s post, “#IMMOOC Go and Find Out.” He shares the process of change in a project for middle school students, whose creations developed from paper to powerpoint to games over a period of years, as technology provided the possibilities for the innovation. Most impressive, as I found on the project website, is that the project focussed on all learners. Listen to the collaborating teachers explain how the gaming project helped struggling writers.

I think key to this innovation is the collaborative inquiry approach by these teachers. Had Kevin worked on this alone, fewer students would have been impacted, and the project would have probably stayed in his repertoire, rather than become a part of a larger change in the school or district.  Innovation cannot exist in isolation. Without a school culture of shared leadership and collaboration, I wonder if innovation can occur? Part of innovation is the building of ideas, sharing of ideas, and remixing of ideas, in collaboration with others to make a difference that’s better than before.

In Innovator’s Mindset on LOC 439 of 3535, Kindle Edition, I found a great chart. I searched and found it on Twitter:

It was part of #cpchat [Connected Principals chat] and #suptchat [Superintendents chat] and co-created by George and Bill Ferriter [@plugusin ]

Technology is a tool, not a leadership outcome.  ~George Couros

Principals and superintendents in these chats are leading change with technology as a tool to do so. Collaboration, reflection, and openness are key, and I think must be part of a goal of innovation. I hope our book study, blogs, and conversations help those of us in classrooms and in the community learn how to extend that leadership.

If you’re part of a school and are joining in this mindset journey, let your leaders know — your tech coordinators, principals, and superintendents. Share your ideas. Share your blog. Ask to share in staff meetings and to provide professional development. Get others involved. Help others make that mindset perspective leap. It’s a key aspect of innovative change.

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#140WC Creativity

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Creativity = Connections

Creativity is innovation. If, as a country, we want innovators and innovative educators and businesses, then we must develop our ability to make connections in diverse ways.

Steve Jobs was a master of innovation — his creative ideas developed from thinking globally — beyond the box in which he was working. So, the Apple II case was inspired by kitchen appliances. The mag-safe magnetic power plug was inspired by Japanese rice cookers. Outside the usual idea of computers. He connected the disparate. He imagined how one could translate to another.

So, education needs to be more flexible, more amenable to connecting ideas, to taking time to solve problems through creative and critical thinking. It’s more powerful learning than demanding objectives and parsed skills. We need more conversation and more time for playing with ideas. If we want innovation, we need time to play, to make, to step back and see how something completely unrelated may help solve a confusing issue.

What I see in my classroom is a hope to get the teacher’s answer. What I see are glazed eyes when I talk about the objective for the day. What I see is a sparkle when I turn the tables so students ask the questions, when the topic is relevant to their lives, and when the task is determined by their desire to share something important to them — their connection, their ideas.

When do you see that sparkle?

Source: http://www.director.co.uk/ONLINE/2010/09_10_innovation_secrets_of_steve_jobs.html

WC: 247

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